My neighbor across the street -- the one who flies a pirate flag -- is playing his music again. The volume is set on eleven.
It's never good music either; it's always angry shouting by groups like Death Ass or Vomit. The musicians, who may or may not be on the same song, play extra loud so they can't hear themselves suck.
My Dominican in-laws call it "white noise."
The other neighbors don't seem to mind. That's because they are several hundred years old and have learned from the news that if you confront people, they will murder you. Besides, the neighbors can always cut their hearing aids.
The racket poses more of a problem if you are, say, TRYING TO WRITE.
Music, like the cell phone, can't be entrusted to everyone. Too many people suffer from that disease where you mature only one year for every four you're alive. They may look like average citizens, but they have no concept of Other.
And Vomit kept on screaming.
I considered phoning the police, but they still haven't shown up from my last call, which went something like this:
"I'd like to report a break-in."
"Was anything stolen?"
"Yes, my serenity."
And it went downhill from there. The operator had asked about the volume of the music -- in decibels. I told her it was on eleven.
So I made the following argument:
When a neighbor's music creates waves in my fish bowl, that is too many decibels. What if everyone on my block, in the city, on the planet, played their music like that? It would be worse than global warming: It would be global Vomit.
And she made the following counterargument:
"Aren't you the guy who had problems with the pirate flag?"
So it goes.
In my town it's cool for cars to have a System, which is to say enough bass to communicate with aliens. The object, it seems, is to be so obnoxious that girls don't notice your appearance. Last week a teen drove by "bumping" so loud that it set off a car alarm, which in turn made siren noises like a police car THAT WOULD NEVER ARRIVE.
The part that hurts the lining of my stomach is that everyone's okay with it. We're like a bunch of store owners who don't mind a little shoplifting so long as there's no conflict.
What could I do but tackle the issue myself?
I parked my car in front of Bill's house, where, after weighing the options, I laid into my car horn. You'd be surprised at how that calls attention.
Bill appeared surprisingly soon. "You got a problem, man?"
"No," I shouted over the honking.
He leaned into my window, and the terror made my horn stop. Maybe I had taken this journalism thing too far.
In sweet and tender tones, I explained. "I'm sitting at home with the windows closed, and all I can hear is your music."
"Looks to me like you're sitting in your car."
That joke killed in the third grade.
I said, "If it's okay for you to play your music that loud, I figured that it would be okay for me to sit here and honk my horn. Musically speaking."
This seemed to confuse Bill, who withdrew from my face. Having processed the data, he said that if I had an f-ing blank with his g-damn blank, then I'd g-damn f-ing better f g h f s.
On the bright side, he didn't throw feces.
I apologized for the stunt, adding my intention to perform similar tests across town for a story I'm writing (blatant lie triggered by posttraumatic stress disorder). Sensing fame and fortune, Bill asked when the story would appear. I promised to bring him a copy, praying that he doesn't find someone to read it to him.
For those of you suffering from neighbor noise, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. I am an experienced groveler and still only barely escaped with my face. I recommend instead calling the police and, no matter how it hurts, refrain from making smart-ass remarks. It's only a matter of time before you'll need them to come and clean up the Vomit.